AstraZeneca gains £4bn in value after cancer drugs sales surge

Drugs giant AstraZeneca gained more than £4 billion in market value on Thursday morning after it posted its fourth successive quarter of rising sales.

The Anglo-Swedish business has continued to see sales rise after it returned to growth last year for the first time since 2014.

Shares rose after it pushed product sales forecasts higher for the full year as its second-quarter sales beat analyst expectations.

Sales surged on the back of strong performances by its new cancer treatments, Tagrisso, Imfinzi and Lynparza.

AstraZeneca was also boosted by strong growth for heart disease drug Brilinta and diabetes medicine Farxiga, with all five drugs expected to reach annual sales of at least one billion US dollars (£800 million).

Oncology drugs and emerging markets have bolstered the drugmaker after years of crumbling sales due to older drugs.

In the second quarter, total sales jumped by 14% to 5.7 billion dollars (£4.6 billion) as the firm lifted its product sales growth forecasts for 2019 to low double-digit growth, after previously predicting high single digit growth.

Oncology drug sales soared 57% to 2.2 billion dollars (£1.7 billion) in the second quarter, accounting for 38% of all product sales.

Pascal Soriot, chief executive officer, said: “The momentum generated last year continued into the first half, consolidating AstraZeneca’s return to growth based on the strength of our new medicines.

“Emerging markets, the US and Japan all grew strongly, and we delivered an encouraging turnaround in Europe in the second quarter.

“Accompanying earnings growth this year, we are pleased to upgrade our product sales guidance and we are committed to working on our operating leverage and driving cash generation over the long term.”

Shares in the drug company rose 5.5% to 6,708p in early trading on Thursday.

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